At New York Comic-Con Friday afternoon, fans went wild for the first-ever NYCC appearance for David Harbour and Millie Bobby Brown of Stranger Things, Netflix’s summer hit, and one of the most binged shows ever. It was a packed room in the Main Stage, when “Eleven” bounced out.
Check out highlights from the panel here below.
Q: What environment did you grow up in? How did you get from there to here?
Brown: I just lived in London, and I’m a very weird child. I sing a lot. I dance a lot, but I’m not very good at it.
Q: What was your audition like?
Brown: It was complicated. I auditioned multiple times. I Skyped with the Duffers.
Q: What kind of material did you have to do?
Brown: Eleven talking? I went along with the script. They were like we’re gonna cut your hair off, your name is Eleven, and you’re like E.T. It was difficult. I had to find Eleven. She’s kinda evil as well. I know what to do to break someone’s neck. My dad was like, “Don’t ever say that again.”
David Harbour walks onto the stage amid screams.
Harbour: In true Hopper fashion, I’m late and hung over. Just kidding, just kidding.
We were talking about auditions and finding the character. Was there particular scene you auditioned?
Harbour: That scene with Joyce.
Q: Tell me about the first time you saw Millie in the Eleven regalia.
Harbour: I saw the audition tape. It was a pretty good audition.
Brown: In the table read, I didn’t have any lines. Just “No. Yes. Papa. I was itching because I had just gotten my head shaved and I felt like it was everywhere.
Q: In the telekinetic scenes, was it like, “Make a telekinetic face?”
Brown: I thought she should look like a child but scary. That’s the Eleven face.
Q: Psychokinetic mind violence. Were they bouncing people off trampolines?
Brown: It was really fun for me to watch. It was so much fun.
Q: This television series owes much to the classics of the 80s. Did they put you through a research phase?
Brown: It was really nice, but I was like, why don’t we just call Will on the phone?
Harbour: No, Millie, we didn’t have phones. The 80s weren’t as good as on Stranger Things. I don’t know how I survived it.
Brown: I would be like, what am I going to do without the Internet? I can’t go on Snapchat. I can’t go on Instagram.
Harbour: I remember, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video came out on TV. The extended version. Vincent Price. That kind of event television doesn’t happen anymore. The Cosby Show – 40 million people stayed home to watch the finale.
Brown: This is how I feel about Vampire Diaries.
Harbour: You like Vampire Diaries? You know I’m buddies with Paul [Wesley].
Brown: Oh my god!
Harbour: He’ll be there when we’re shooting in Atlanta.
Brown: [with a smile] If I’m in Atlanta.
Harbour: They grow up so fast.
Q: Tell me about the creature.
Harbour: Um…it’s a guy in a puppet. His name is Mark. He’s very thin.
Brown: He couldn’t hear. We had to get someone to pinch his feet.
Harbour: Millie is much more professional. I do carry home. I don’t do the Jared Leto stuff like sending dead pigs to people. I do some method. I like the experience to be authentic, so I carry it away. Atlanta is a very easy place to be sad and lonely, for me anyway. I would go home a lot and sit in my apt and smoke cigarettes. My work is more important than my personal life. It’s like training for a marathon. I like to do it full out.
People ask about working with the kids. The 1st big day is when I tell the kids not to look for Will. They were so cute and bouncy and happy. Get my chair away from them. I don’t want to talk to them. Wanted to preserve intimidation. At the time they thought I was an angry weird dude.
Q: You were in Atlanta. Did you see any of The Walking Dead people?
Brown: I would have died if I met anyone from TWD. I went to the set of Alexandria. I had a pink wig because no one knew I was bald yet. I’m a really big fan.
Q: What are you going to do for Halloween?
Brown: I think I might dress up as Hopper.
Harbour: I’m gonna be Barb.
The audience cheers.
Q: Will we ever get justice for Barb?
Harbour: We do know a little bit, but we are not gonna say anything. We do deal with the loose ends in the season 2. I can assure you that Barb is very much dead.
Q: Did the Barb thing catch you by surprise?
Harbour: She has such a unique look and so of the time – the mom jeans. As iconic as anybody else.
Brown: She has the look. [Millie makes the Barb face.]
Q: Every character comes in one way an then changes, developing as the show goes on. Have your characters grow in a really nice direction?
Harbour: You know there’s some kind of loss. Instead of being sad or angry, he’s sarcastic. He doesn’t give a shit. I love it. It’s great to go on that journey.
Q: Were there any particular characters that were your influences?
Harbour: For me, what it was to struggle with masculinity, like Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces. Swashbuckling – Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones. Roy Scheider, Nick Nolte. Less handsome, a little more beat up. I fit in that category.
Q: The science teacher. How appropriate is it for his kids to call him up in the middle of the night?
Harbour: It was the 80s.
Q: I’m a huge fan of The Intruders. Did you know what you were saying on that show?
Brown: No. I didn’t know what I was talking about.
Q: You play a stoic and really weird character. Do you ever want to do a role that’s different?
Brown: I’m quite funny. I’d love to do comedy.
Q: Did you have any personal loss that helped you with your character?
Harbour: I work in metaphor. I’ve never had the loss of a daughter or parent yet. One thing that is interesting to me. With the loss of a daughter, I feel like he is truly broken in a way that cannot be healed. In a certain way he has so much guilt. He carries it on his shoulders.
Q: What is your favorite and least favorite part?
Brown: I like my character. She’s got to talk a bit more though. Just say where the upside down is! The best part is having powers is you get to do really fun stuff.
Harbour: The best part and the worst part is the same – the dark place. It’s wonderful to be able to explore that.
Brown: Did your trailer actually cost one dollar?
Harbour: Apparently it did.
Q: Was there anything on set that had nostalgia for you from your past?
Harbour: The phone cord was long and crusted with food. Tons of games on set – Simon and Connect-4. I was a big D&D guy. Cleric for life. Watching the kids play D&D was like…
Brown: So you played D&D?
Harbour: Yeah. I’m a nerd. I was a cleric – holy warrior of the light, with a book in one hand and a mace in the other.
Q: Post production, did you guys play D&D. Did you have a board game night?
Harbour: If we did, I wasn’t invited. Maybe in season 2.
Q: Do you actually like Eggos?
Brown: I like them, I do. I do not like how many I eat. It does taste really nice. But not 15 times.
Harbour: I like every single cigarette I smoke.
Q: Who was your first friend on set?
Harbour: For me it was Winona. Actually we met, we went out in LA with the Duffer Brothers. We had a 5-hour dinner and I kinda fell in love with her. I just hung out with her a lot. Oh yeah. I was a fanboy. Like Heathers was one of the greatest movies of that decade. And she so cute. So I had a big crush on her.
Brown: They [the boys] were like big brothers. They really annoyed me, but I loved them. But it was Winona. She is so sweet. So nice and caring. She’s like a mouse that eats cheese and crackers, and we talked about movies all day.
Harbour: I think she felt kinship to you.
Q: One of my favorite parts of the season was when Hopper was leaving. What do you think hypothetically, of him pseudo-adopting her [Eleven]?
Harbour: We can’t tell you. There would be a rich emotional arc. We end season 1 with Hopper selling Eleven out. He has her go in the upside down to save Will. It’s a complex relationship.
Brown: Who’s excited for season 2?
Harbour: We did get the first couple of scripts.
Brown: I’m not saying anything.
Q: How do you guys feel about how it ended with Nancy, Steve, and Jonathan?
Audience has mixed emotions.
Brown: I’m ok with “Stancy.”
Harbour: One of the great love triangles of the series. Even when I was watching it, I was torn. But there’s more to come.
Keep it here at Geeks Of Doom all weekend for our on-site coverage of NYCC 2016 and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates.